Greater Things: Last Days

Sometimes first days are scary, the first day of high school can be intimidating, the first day of tryouts can leave your stomach queasy, the first day of a new job or new relationship can leave you nervous, but those are the days we feel most alive. Yet, we only have so many hours in the day, only so much focus and attention. A new day often only comes when we realize we have to embrace some

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Last Days (1 Kings 19:21) 21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

This is where things get crazy cool! Elisha went back to say goodbye to his parents, and he took the yoke that he had used to build up the life that was so comfortable and profitable and he started breaking it apart. He didn’t store it in a barn, just in case things didn’t work out. He took the oxen and started slaughtering them, not putting them out to pasture in case things didn’t work out.  Yet from seemingly a destructive act—Elisha reaches out to all the people—solidifying his new calling as a prophet of God—a celebration of a calling—and    then he followed Elijah. Where do you need to cut ties with the past, some of you have probably been living two lives-one foot in the past and one in the future—feeling the tension of those two worlds daily colliding together, others have been carrying the weight of past failures, or broken relationships, and we fight to be good, when God beckons us to what’s greater. No going back to what didn’t work.

Sometimes it takes breaking the mold, burning the yokes to bring a new day. Most people don’t know, but before George Washington was a Revolutionary General before he was President, he had to break the mold. Continue reading “Greater Things: Last Days”

Greater Things- First Day

In the midst of the everyday comes the opportunity for something different, something out of the ordinary…not an everyday, but a…

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First Day (1 Kings 19:19c) Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him.

It doesn’t sound like anything really that noteworthy, but in this Jewish culture the cloak represents the calling. (Like the Wild West, if you got deputized with a badge.) The cloak in the same way was used as protection in bad weather, bedding on rough ground, a pad to sit on, luggage to get around, a pledge to pay a debt, was actually torn to pieces as a sign of joining in the grief of another. God started to prepare a transition. Elisha would be the next great prophet of God! This day was unlike any before it or after it, this was the First Day of a new adventure, a mission on behalf of God. Elisha’s response is so interesting- 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”  This calling is an interruption of life as Elisha knew it and as a result there is a tension between what he knows and the unknown before him; between the past and this potentially amazing future; what is good and what might be greater. Continue reading “Greater Things- First Day”

Greater Things-Everyday

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Today we are going to begin a new sermon called Greater Things, as we gear up for a first-hand view of one of the most overlooked and yet captivating Old Testament prophets Elisha. Let me give you some of the context here, the nation of Israel has split into two divided monarchies, religious idolatry abounds, and there has been seemingly only one faithful prophet by the name of Elijah serving God. He has just battled it out on top of Mount Carmel with the prophets of false gods. We pick up right in the aftermath where Elisha comes into the story.  A man who had no idea God wanted to use him or any prospect of what he would become. As we tag along and recount some of his most daring adventures we do so in hopes of moving from comfortable to called, from complacent to compelled, and from good to greater things! Open with me to our text today from the book of 1 Kings, Chapter 19, verses 19-21 today where Elisha is in the midst of having a day that is like…

Everyday- Elijah the great prophet has been sent to find his replacement after having a heart to heart with God…(1 Kings 19:19a-b) 19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. For Elisha like our cat in the halls of heaven, the everyday was pretty good. He lives in the town of Abel-Meholah which literally translates as the dancing meadow. If I had to be from somewhere, the dancing meadow isn’t a bad place to take in the everyday and the good times keep rolling in.  It reminds me of the Sound of Music. Elisha is in the field, working the ground, not with one ox show, but instead with twenty-four ox. This is like the corporate farm rolling around with a fleet of brand new John Deere combines instead of a harvesting by hand. Elisha’s family is wealthy, comfortable, and most likely content!  Continue reading “Greater Things-Everyday”

Anticipated but Never Obsolete

Time and thought, personal and deepening, and sacrifice all go into making the perfect gift, but if you remember back to build of Christmas morning, you know that a great gift is one that is:

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 Highly Anticipated. Remember the rush of repeating to your parents your gift preferences, written list for Santa and an extra for mom and dad, aunts and uncles, strangers at the mall who will listen—letting them know exactly what you want.

In fact, I want your help here, let’s look back at the most anticipated gifts of the last 50 plus years and if you remember the gift, wanted one, go ahead and clap or yell. 2016’s most anticipated gift is Star Wars themed BB-8 Droid, looking like R2D2. 2010—IPAD, 2005—XBOX 360, 2000—RAZOR Scooter, 1996- TICKLE ME ELMO, 1992—BARNEY DOLLS, 1989—Nintendo Gameboy, 1982-Cabbage Patch Dolls, 1978- Hungry Hungry Hippos, 1975—If you’ve spent way too much this holiday season you’ll be jealous on this one—most anticipated gift was the PET ROCK, 1963—EZ Bake Oven…Here is the issue that starts to probably become pretty obvious—each of these gifts despite being the best gift ever in their year—are now in a trash heap, antique shop, stuck aimlessly in someone’s basement collecting dust, now they are all obsolete—unless you need a good rock. The BEST Gift Ever is one that is anticipated but never obsolete.

In Acts 4:12—Luke makes a mighty proclamation about the longevity of God’s gift of Christ– 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Continue reading “Anticipated but Never Obsolete”

Requires Sacrifice

With each criterion we get closer to being able to judge a so-so gift from the great gift, a way of determining what the BEST GIFT EVER really means. As you think about gifts that stick with you most of the time the greatest gifts:

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 Requires Sacrifice—What instantly comes to mind is the story the Gift of the Magi-where a poor young husband and wife each sacrifice something they highly value to get something for the other. Jim, sacrifices his most cherished possession, his grandfather and father’s golden watch…Della sacrifices her cherished beautiful brown locks. The author O. Henry summed up his decree: “And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.” Thomas A. Kempis-“A wise lover values not so much the gift of the lover as the love of the giver.”

Sacrifice becomes a standing of our value in the eyes of the other person. (1 John 4:9-10)  This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Even before the cross, Jesus sacrificed for us: Eternally living outside of time and space to enduring the agony of being bound, the all-powerful word was forced to learn each word as a baby, perfectly and fully God to suddenly also fully man, from at peace with the Father to taking the punishment befitting others, creator suddenly subject to the laws of creation. Continue reading “Requires Sacrifice”

Personal and Deepening

Not only are time and thought key components of a great gift, but I bet you’ll agree that the best gifts ever are:

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Personal and Deepen Our Relationship—Over the course of years, you probably are like me, you’ve gotten fancy and expensive gifts from people—gifts that are electric and fancy, require directions and set ups, and yet for some reason the gifts that I have saved are the ones that are worth externally nearly nothing—they are the ones that months after Father’s Day still hang on the fridge declaring me the Best Dad—written in crayons and outside of the lines. Or for some of you this is where the coupon book comes in handy—homemade coupon book to give your wife who stays at home with the kids a full day for relaxation, or a day to just read something other than picture books. Continue reading “Personal and Deepening”